This was an unexpected residence. Vancouver, WA. We moved in here ringing in 2009 and now the countdown to leaving is on. In just over two weeks we will be hitting the road.
It was a small leap of a decision, to move across the river from Portland to Vancouver. Portland is a very liveable, walkable city and for that I love it. But Vancouver provided a retreat of mind that I didn’t even know I needed. I awoke on January 1, 2009 in the new Vancouver digs and felt as if my mind was on a new retreat. Fresh air, different space.
I hunger for new environs quickly though. Maintaining a peaceful, waiting stance in Vancouver was a challenge. Now that a move is near, the desire for a closure ritual of sorts arise. So I take to the camera and a walk around Fort Vancouver.
Post Hospital, built 1904 (not in use)
Porch of old Infantry Barracks, built 1904
The original intention of what is now known as Fort Vancouver National Historic Site was to provide “peaceful American settlement of the Oregon Country.” (Source: nps.gov) Certainly, “peaceful settlement” also entailed acts of violence and displacement that were so familiar and necessary for the ‘American’ operation territory wide.
Today, remnants of battle and strife can only be glimpsed through storytelling and historic markers. In fact, it’s a rather cozy little post, where even the benches on the old porches of the Infantry Barracks are painted in colors that remind me of Pippi Longstocking’s colorful digs.
As a significant node in the network of Hudson’s Bay Company’s, I definitely get excited when I imagine the buzz of this post in bygone years. This was the north wild west. Days got a bit nippy in Winter. Summer was divine (or maybe kind of hot, I don’t know what the climate was doing in those days). Harvest was rich. Tensions in land strife were, no doubt, of some horrific proportions. There is a part of me that wants to lament on the bloodshed that was inevitable to the American operation in this region, but if I should lament for that, there will be no end to the sorrow, because the story replicates nation- and world- wide.
I can’t imagine the same thing happening today. A new power moving in on the USA and slowly, state by state, region by region, imprisoning Americans, outlawing the use of English, separating families. It seems absurd when you envision it. Perhaps because such things don’t happen to established powers anymore- certainly not those with vast infrastructures and “well developed” societies and rules. I guess I’ll have to turn to sci fi and the notions of alien occupation for any imaginings of those sorts….